tv CNN Newsroom CNN October 11, 2011 1:00pm-3:00pm EDT
pretty beach to be full of oil. >> reporter: actually how long the water will be safe. >> you know, with the noiz picking up next week, thinking it could turn pretty quick. >> reporter: for the penguins it will take several more bajs to get their clean. the bill is being picked up by the ship's owner. if you want to check out the runners up, i'll have links on my facebook. cnn newsroom continues right now are randi kaye. for millions of americans the situation is dire. the nation's unemployment rate stuck at 9.1% and more than 14 million americans out of work, they need jobs now. that reality has become a ticking political time bomb for president barack obama and his
re-election campaign. the today the president and the jobs act face a critical vote, a important vote in the senate. they are pushing hard to rally support. if you wonder what the president jobs bill could mean for you, here's a brief overview. in addition to other things we're talking about extending the current payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. there also would be new tax credits for businesses that hire people who are unemployed. president obama is in pittsburgh today where he will speak about his jobs bill less than one hour from now. this is an important last minute push was the senate is scheduled to hold a key procedural vote on whether it will consider that bill. white house correspondent dan lothian is traveling with the president and joins us live from pittsburgh. hi, there, dan. is the president preparing for the possibility that his jobs bill may not pass today's test in the senate? >> reporter: it it does appear that he is. in fact, he's meeting with his jobs council and a short minute
ago he was asked about this and the president responded, saying, he doesn't know how congress will respond to the overall jobs bill but the expectation is that if in fact they don't pass it, as one entire piece, that it would be broken into parts. they would certainly push for the infrastructure component of that and then pressure would be applied later to get all of those other pieces done. but what the white house really wants is for this whole package to be taken up in one piece because they believe that's the only way to really get the economy going to create the kinds of jobs that the president would like to see. >> and when you look at this package, dan, we're talking $447 billion. one of sticking points is obviously taxing the rich. they do need 60 votes to pass this procedural hurdle. does the president think he has the votes here? >> reporter: well, look, i think the conventional wisdom is that the votes simply are not there to get this entire bill done as
one piece. i was talking to meldy barnes, one of the top advisers and her feeling is they want to worry about that tomorrow. they really hope they can get this whole bill passed but it doesn't appear that they do have the votes to do that. one of interesting points though is that what have they been doing behind the scenes to get congress to actually pass this bill. we've seen the president hit the road much like he's doing today here in pittsburgh. he's been across the country pushing americans to put pressure on their representatives to pass this bill but there's been no sort of behind the scenes negotiation with republicans to get them to table and work out some kind of deal. the strategy from white house aids has been that the president applies the pressure in public and gets the american people to put the pressure on members of congress. but, again, it's unlikely the votes are there.
>> we'll see how this key vote goes. dan lothian, thanks very much. for many of you who are unemployed and struggling to get hired. the jobs bill requires a key measure that would make it illegal for a company to reject or exclude an plik ant because that person is unemployed. we'll take you live to pittsburgh when the president speaks about the jobs bill in about 45 minutes. some protesters in new york are moving on up, they are heading uptown to the homes of the wealthiest residents, demonstrators who have been working with the broader occupy wall street movement are marching to the homes of john paulison and j.p. morgan chase c.e.o. jamie dimon, they are being targeted for a willingness to hoard wealth at the expense of the 99%. >> subpoenas may be issued to the justice department today, house oversight and government reform committee chair darrel is
sa as operation fast and furious went wrong. he's pointing fingers at eric holder. it involved atf agents tracking the illegal sales of guns that would likely end up in the hands of mexican drug lords. weapons found in american and mexican murder scenes were traced back to that program. in detroit today, opening statements in the trial of the accused underwear bomber, umar far uk abdulmutallab. he tried to ignite explosives hidden in his underwear. u.s. officials say al qaeda was behind the attempt. he has chosen to represent himself in court. customers furious over debit card fees are blaming the banks but the banks are pointing the finger at congress. are new regulations the answer? joe johns explains next. big league scouts remember this name, doug wells, this
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it's maddening, which is why we're doing this all week. cnn is doing specialty reporting called furious over fees, banks blame congress for the new fees. joe johns is digging into all of this and is in washington. joe, why are the banks blaming capitol hill? it's not like lawmakers twisted their arms and said you have to charge people $5 to use their atm cards. >> that's all true. it goes back to earlier this year when congress got into a tif with the banks over what are known as swipe fees. the idea is retailers have to pay a fee to the banks each and every transaction they make, some in washington believe the swipe fees, up to 44 cents a transaction were too high. so the fees got cut in half to no more than 21 acciden 1 cents. bank of america says they have a right to make a profit from their business and so we get this $5 fee on debit card transactions. they basically say, congress, if
you hadn't cut our swipe fees we wouldn't have to institute this fee and here we are, randi. >> what's congress's answer to all of this? >> there's a lot of secrecy surrounding that, peter welch of vermont is apparently very interested in the subject. i'm hearing he may have something to say on this with other members of congress as early as tomorrow. but otherwise, i spent the last several hours calling around to congressional committees and offices trying to get somebody to say something about debit card fees. the silence is deafening. you talk to the watch dogs and others and they give you self-help solutions, things like use a credit card or get rid of the bank if they are charging a big fee. you know, use a credit union for example. now we're going to see if congress can do anything or even launch and investigation. they are keeping the wraps on what they plan to offer. randi. >> a lot of people are so
frustrated with this. alson kosik spoke to some people on the street. >> the bank is making off of my money, why am i being charged $5 a month? i don't think it's fair. >> what's going to happen all of the banks will end up doing it. one does it, they all do it. >> a lot of people, joe, are thinking about closing their accounts. do you think congress hears this? >> maybe, but i've got to tell you, i took a quick look at open secrets.org, this is the online presence of the center for responsive politics and they gave us some numbers on how much money is spent by the banking industry on lobbying. there you go. first six months of this year, 32 million spent by commercial banks in washington. they have 416 lobbyists. remember, they are just 535 members of congress that are elected. bank of america by itself spent $1.5 million on lobbying the
first half of this year. you talk too b of a and they have still gotten credit for being transparent about the fee. the bank of america ceo brian moynahan defended the fee, we have a right to make a profit and says he has an inher eduty o get a return for shareholders, capitalism at work. >> sure sounds like that. joe johns thanks forgiving us perspective on that. did you know every 14 minutes one american is killed by prescription painkillers or anxiety medications. why drugs meant to help may be killing thousands of people each year? >> first, here's a look at the stories you're watching on cnn.com.
breaking news here at cnn, we have just learned that chris christie, the governor of new jersey who announced he isn't going to run for the gop nomination, he has said now that he will endorse candidate mitt romney at 3:00 p.m. eastern. that's an event today in new hampshire where he will do that. that is just hours before the gop presidential debate tonight at dartmouth, college, this is
coming to us from two sources close to the new jersey governor and also from john king, who got that information for us. once again, chris christie, will endorse mitt romney less than two hours from now at an event in new hampshire. prescription drugs kill thousands of americans every year. it is a store are you undercovered until now. one report says in 2009 the number topped 37,000, nearly all because doctors overprescribe drugs or fail to monitor patients or because people mix drugs together or mix them with alcohol. the centers for disease control disputes the number. it says in 2007, the latest year we have the figures, the actual number of deaths from those who took tranquilizer and painkillers and such is 11,499. these are unintended accidental deaths. of course we know that is still too many. my guest will help us look for
solutions, linda gud as, welcome to the program. explain the disparity in the numbers. >> the 37,000 is actually all drug related, drug induced deaths. that means those are deaths from over the counter drugs, intentional overdoses, it includes more than just the prescription painkillers that we're talking about in the 11,500 number. >> one of problems here seems to be doctors who are overprescribing these drugs. how do we get that under control? >> there's a number of ways we can do that. first of all, we can look at prescribing practices using things like prescription drug monitoring programs that will let us know what the physicians are doing in order to prescribe drugs, what are they prescribing and what are the amounts and who are they giving them to. there are other initiatives we can take to develop clinical
guidelines for appropriate prescription of these drugs. >> vicodin, let's talk about vicodin here, the single most prescribed drug on the planet. there anyone specifically looking at how much vicodin is prescribed and how doctors are handling that? >> we know there's been an increase in all of oep yoid drugs which includes vicodin and other medications similar to vik lynn. we're not singling out one drug because all of them seem to be a problem in this really epidemic prescription drug overdose. so we can address all of them as a group and look at the prescribing practices. >> people who resell these drugs are known to make thousands. is there any way to put a hold on that to control that? >> part of it is really limiting the number of pills or something that somebody would get in a prescription, really restricting how some of these drugs are prescribed for people who don't
really need them. and one of challenges and one of things we really want to ensure is people who do need access to these drugs get them and get them prescribed in the way that they need to do so. so we are working with some of the physician groups to especially american college of emergency physicians to ensure that they are prescribing things and developing clinical guidelineses that will help them to prescribe the correct amounts of the drugs to patients who really need them. >> clearly something needs to be done. thank you very much. >> more cnn after the break. but first, sex, politics and a hearing that riveted the nation 20 years ago today, law professor anita hill went before the senate judiciary committee accusing supreme court nominee clarence thomas of sexual harassment. thomas denied the allegations calling the proceedings a high tech lynching and that is this shame in history. [ male announcer ] if you're only brushing,
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breaking news into the cnn newsroom, chris christie will endorse mitt romney. chris christie, the governor of new jersey will endorse mitt romney at 3:00 in at an event in new hampshire. christie said it will not seek the nomination. this is a pretty big deal for mitt romney to get this endorsement since so many people were looking to chris christie to enter that race. this will happen hours before the gop presidential debate taking place in new hampshire. we're getting this from our chief national correspondent john king who has spoken with two sources close to the new jersey governor. the news today at this hour, chris christie will endorse mitt romney an hour and a half from now. it is a catch me if you can pursuit that spanned 20 years for a man known as the merchant
of death. alleged international drugs and arms smuggling victor boot goes on trial. his life inspired the nicholas cage movie "lord of war." richard roth is following the trial from new york. why is this case so significant? >> well, victor boot has been an alleged arms merchant, fueling conflicts around the world for more than a decade. his name has been mentioned in u.n. security council sanctions reports. he's been accused and linked with wars in various african countries, afghanistan, this case actually is going to focus mostly entirely on what went down in bangkok, thailand. >> what are the exact charges he's facing? >> well, it was a 3 continent, undercover operation to get victor bout into that hotel room
where he is accused of conspireing to sell a large amount of weapons to undercover d.e.a. agents that would have been used for a terrorist organization, rebels in the nation of colombia, designed to kill americans, u.s. pilots who would have been involved in arms operations against the rebel group there. he could face life in prison if found guilty. one of his former colleagues is prepared to testify against him, randi? >> have you gotten any word on what happened in court today? >> well, victor bout was there with his wife and teenager daughter and the jury pool, the jurors were asked questions by the judge, it was a large amount of people, several have been dismissed already, not a juror was selected by the morning break. the judge is worried that the case will be prejudiced against bout because of his notoriety she was considering a pledge that they wouldn't look him up
on the internet. she asked about the knowledge of russia and fark grew in colombia and dismissed people who don't like fark or lived in russia before. richard roth, sounds like a fascinating case. so fascinating they made a movie out of it. clashes this this case killed more than two dozen people and leaders are scrambling to get a handle on the worse violence since february. one just resigned. we'll take you there in globe trekking. if you're out of work and looking for a job "money" is out with the list of best jobs in america. >> if you want a job that's big in more ways than one, go back to school as a teacher. jobs in the classroom are booming, especially if you're biling you'll or have a math or science or special education background. teacher make just under $50,000 a year but many will tell you they don't do it for the money.
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finding mission and began work on a law mandating equality when it comes to building places of worship. clashes involving armed troops left some dead sunday night. many were crushed by speeding military vehicles. hurricane jova is closing in on the west coast near purt at a vallarta. more than 300 mexican soldiers have been deployed and the mexican navy is on alert. 100 shelters are open but american tourists we talked with are doing their best to make sure the storm does not ruin their vacations. tonight is a do or die debate for rick perry and herman cain's rise in the polls is wondering is cain able. in new hampshire, we want to know, when was the very first presidential debate in a general elecon held?
before the break we wondered when the first presidential debatd in a general election was held, 1960 kennedy/nixon debates, and they changed the face of politics forever. incidentally after kennedy/nixon there were no more tv debates until 1976. since then we've had one in every election for president. when presidential candidates hold the debate tonight, many political insider will be focusing on rick perry. his rise to the polls fizzled after two bad debate performa e performances. remember this stumble. >> against the second amendment before he was for the second amendment was before he was before the social programs from the standpoint of he was far
standing up for row versus wade before he was against roe versus wade. >> what? nobody could follow that. some say it's do or die for them. that is fair game to talk about with my guest ed espinosa and will joins us from new york. i have a lot of questions for you, will, your reaction to this breaking news we just reported here on cnn, that governor chris christie from new jersey is going to endorse mitt romney. what do you think? >> i think it's interesting because all of the assets that chris christie brought to this campaign, a sense of authenticity, are all of the things missing from mitt romney's campaign. he seemingly would like to tell you whatever it is you want to hear so you vote for them. maybe some of that will rub off. his authenticity rubbing off on mitt romney. >> i think i heard ed grum bling in the background.
>> i was agreeing, actually. my take is i wonder what chris christie is going to do to be in the news next week. he's pretty good about keeping himself out there. >> he didn't hold a 45 minute press conference for this. >> you're right, exactly. i wonder how long this one will be. if i'm mitt romney, the christie news is hopeful but one of things i would be worried about is not new hampshire but it's iowa. poll came out today shows he's at 23%. he was at 23% in june. that's good enough for first place in a nine-way race, but as soon as somebody drops out, all it takes is a little push for somebody else to support somebody else and before you know it you're not the front-runner any more and lost momentum to somebody else. perry is going to be in this for a while. he has $17 million in the bank. what about with bachmann and gring rich and some of the other guys, really interesting to see
what will happen. >> mitt romney will come in feeling pretty confident and good tonight. what does rick perry have to do tonight on that stage to appear that he's in command? >> yeah, i want to agree with something ed said. i don't think this debate is do or die for perry. i think we're overstating that. he has had one of biggest fundraising periods of any candidate. $15 million in the bank. i don't mean this disparagingly, this thing is on bloomberg. the american public doesn't overly tune into these debates. if he strings this to three or four, it becomes part of a larger narrative that paints him as incompetent. he does need to get the train back on the tracks. i don't think it's do or die but he has to change that narrative. >> ed, you want to talk about train on tracks. cain's train is steaming down those tracks. what do you make of him and his skyrocketing in the polls? i know they are placing him
center stage tonight. what does he have to do not to turn off the voters? >> i think it's great. every time a new poll comes out, rearranges seating, almost like a poll position in the nascar race. whoever is in the lead gets the front spot. with cain he follows this pattern where we've had a different flavor of the month. we've talked about this before but with michelle bachmann and rick perry and now herman cain, it will be really interesting next week the third quarter financial reports will come out and we'll see if his support -- if he can fund that support over the long haul. will made a really good point. $17 million in the bank for rick perry will go a long way, especially in an iowa media market where davenport tv is $2 a week. >> thank you for your time today. >> you bet. >> now we have other breaking news coming to cnn.
brian todd is joining us from washington. what can i tell us about this the fast and furious gun running operation? we know there are new subpoenas that could be issued, eric holder, the attorney general is the target of one. what are you hearing? >> randi, we're hearing there is more pressure being applied by the house oversight and government reform committee toe attorney general holder and his star regarding what they knew about the fast and furious program. a source close to the committee tells cnn that a subpoena going out likely today will seek communications between holder and two of his top staff members, his chief of staff gary grinleer and brewer, head of the criminal division. this will seek communications between those three that had to do with the fast and furious program. we are told in addition the subpoena is going to demand information about the investigation into the death last december of border patrol
agent brian terry, his body was found near weapon that's were connected to the fast and furious program when he was murdered in december. justice officials are conducting an internal investigation into all of this and house the oversight and government reform committee wants documents on that investigation and they want documents having to do with whatever correspondence the justice department had with the white house over this matter. this is according to a source close to the committee. that should be going out today and that is what we're told will ask for. >> this goes back to this program where some of the guns, many of the guns in fact that were part of the u.s. program, the fast and furious program ended up in criminals hands. do you think they are looking to find out what these people knew and when they knew it, maybe how far back? is this all about timing? >> a lot of it is about timing and a lot of it is trying to trace who at the top levels of the justice department knew
about this program when it was in effect and when the guns were being allowed to walk into mexico. holder acknowledged this was a flawed program but said he did not know anything about it until really earlier this year. back in may he testified he didn't really know much of anything about it before a few weeks before that. so you're talking about sometime in the spring. there are documents that have been leaked out to the press showing that there were memos with mr. holder's name on it last year about the program, though they didn't go into a lot of detail. so members of the house, the republicans on this committee are trying to button hole just when the attorney general knew about this and what detail he knew to see where it goes and where this investigation is going. >> it seems to be growing, for sure. we'll see where it goes. brian todd, thank you very much. a new study shows the lone stereo typical school yard bully picking on the defenseless is a thing of the past. 56% of students are bullies or
victims or both. we'll talk with anderson cooper about the new findings. you may remember this man, he challenged then candidate barack obama's plan for small businesses. >> my name is joe, i'm getting ready to buy a company that makes 250, $280,000 a year, your new tax plan will tax me more. >> he picked up the nickname joe the plumber. now he is using his status, if you want to call it that, to run for congress. why? because he consulted god for making his decision, he says. here's what i say, your spotlight has faded, your 15 minutes are up. ♪ i say you talk too much that's why you should consider an aarp... medicare supplement insurance plan... insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. all medicare supplement insurance plans can help pay... some of what medicare doesn't, so you could save... thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.
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all this week cnn is taking an in depth look at bullying, what more can we be doing to stop it? and what can we do to keep kids from killing themselves because of it. a six-month pilot study looking at why bullying happens and some of the findings were shocking. they discovered 56% of students are bullies are victims or both. earlier i spoke with anderson about that alarming number. >> i think it's pretty eye-opening. it just gives you a sense of how widespread the problem is and how complex it is. traditionally we think of bullies or victims and you're one or the other. it's much more complex than that. what we learned in this study and what you see on ac 360, it is much more about social combat
as one of associateologists. they are trying to raise and improve their position within different social cliques so bullying or aggressive behavior is about belittling someone who is lower than you in the social order or attacking someone who is slightly above you in the social order to bring them down and raise yourself up. >> you know, i've heard some kids say and i'm sure you've heard it more than i have, just toughen up. but it's not that easy, is it? >> it's not. this is not just standing up to a bully in a playground. this is -- or during recess or in the school hallways, this is bullying happening around the clock, out on social media sites and out on forums and other websites kids are part of. it's not something you can say toughen up.
that often means suck it up and don't talk about it. what we know is social isolation, when kids feel socially isolated and feel they have no one to talk to and do bottle things up, that is often what leads to kids taking more drastic action cutting themselves even suicidal behavior. and when you think about the effect on a lot of kids, do they talk about how it hurts them and how they feel inside, maybe even wanting to go ahead with suicide which we've seen so many times? >> yeah, it's really -- i mean, it's so sad talking to so many of these kids because they start to think this is the norm. and that school -- learning is kind of the least of their concerns about what they go to school. they are dread going to school every day. i talked to one ninth grader named kyle who said at one point there were 40 different people picking on him on a daily basis. and he did not feel, he didn't feel safe in his school and
talked to so many kids who feel that way. and even if it's not as drastic as not feeling safe, it's not knowing where the next attack is going to come from. >> yeah. did you meet any kids who witnessed bullying and maybe stepped in or are they afraid to try to even stop it? >> that's one of the more hopeful thing, there's bullies and victims and interveners. that's the most important group to focus on because the greatest number of people are people who are not necessarily going to be victimized or bullies but just bistanders watching this stuff happen. if you can get to a point where in schools the norm is to intervene, where it's not socially acceptable to bully, to victimize somebody else, that's when probably the greatest change can happen, even more than school administrators getting involved or school counselors or parents or teachers. it's the kids themselves
standing up and saying, we don't do that here. that's not acceptable and not going to work. studies show and there's another hopeful finding is that long term the aggressive behavior, the bullying of others doesn't help you maintain a social -- get to a high social position in a school. the kids who we asked -- we asked kids in the study to name who they most respected and most admired and who were the most popular and those were the kids that ranked least on the aggression scale. they weren't kids who were bullying and that's a hopeful thing. it really is time for all of us to take a stand all this week at 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern, anderson cooper will bring attention to america's bullying crisis. and just a reminder in about ten minutes, we're waiting for the president to speak live in pittsburgh. there's a live picture. he should be taking that podium and no doubt he'll be speaking about jobs. we'll be right back.
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welcome back, everyone. i want to tell but this breaking terror news just into cnn. we are learning from the state department producer that a senior u.s. official -- i'm just getting word here -- that a senior u.s. official tells cnn that the fbi and drug enforcement agency displotted a plot involving iran. involving iran in terms of who
was targeted here, let's turn now to dil dougherty. you're there at the state department. tell us who was the target and how they managed to find out about this plot. >> right. the fbi and drug enforcement agency, dea, disrupted a plot, which was to assassinate the saudi ambassador to the united states, which states. now, how this was supposed to work, a man was contacted or trying to solicit members of the drug cartel to assassinate the
saudi ambassador. >> jill, do we have any idea when this was supposed to take place? how close were they to actually something happened when they foiled this. >> at this point we don't have a lot of details but . >> what does iran have to say about this? >> what they would say is unknown at this point but quickly we could get something and the saudis would be interested in perhaps saying something as well. >> and in terms of countries, why the saudi ambassador to the u.s.? >> well, the saudis and iranians you would have to say are at odds in many areas of the world. so that could be one of the reasons. you'd have to dig deeply into exactly what was going on here
and why they would want to do it in the united states. >> and we know certainly that the mexican drug cartels are certainly well armed. any hint as to how this was supposed to go down? >> no. but as you noted, definitely there are elements of drug cartels in mexico that are ever bit as conventional as armies. they have a lot of weapons and a lot of money. so how they were going to do this, obviously it would seem that they would not come in with an army but there would be some way. assassination -- we would have to define what assassination means. very serious. >> and certainly the u.s. has its hands full and the administration has its hands full in trying to track down would-be terrorists. should we add now iran on to that list? >> iran has always been on that list. mainly for supporting. so, again, how this worked, what was the impetus, was it directed
by elements of the iranian government. so it looks as if what these u.s. officials are saying has started in iran and then they in some fashion got this person. we do not have his nationality but he was supposed to slolace sit the drug cartels. >> did they solicit anyone besides the iranian government? >> i do not have that information. >> update us as to what is going on? >> the fbi and dea, the drug enforcement agency, have disrupted a plot. that he plot was to assassinate the saudi ambassador to the united states. and the plot, these senior u.s.
officials are saying, was directed by elements of the iranian government. and the way that plot was supposed to work, a person, as yet appears unnamed, was supposed to be working on trying to get to members of the mexican drug cartels to solicit their help in carrying out the assassination of the saudi ambassador. >> just a minute. i want to show you a live picture from the department of justice. we know eric holder will be speaking shortly and he may address this of course and we are waiting for the president to speak. he's in pittsburgh today. he may or may not address this as he also talks about jobs there as well. jill, what is the relationship, if any, if you know this between the iranian government, when you talk about them turning to the mexican drug cartels. have you ever heard of anything like this? is there any relationship there at all? >> i have not. but if this were to be carried
out in the united states, you would have to say that that would be one way to do it, because, after all, drug cartels, as i said, have a lot of money and a lot of weapons. and there might be some way to do that. and, also, it could give some kind of deniability, but by using members of -- or some type of help from mexican drug cartels, it throws it pretty far away from iran, or at least would appear to, and then you might have some deniability. >> what would be the next step, once the president gets word of this or hillary clinton, how will the u.s. proceed from here? >> well, number one, if this were to happen on u.s. soil, that is very serious because
it's not just iran versus the saudis. it is iran doing something allegedly on the soil of the united states. and that make it is very, very complicated. relations, as we know already, have been quite strained as well as the actions by iran not to mention the things that they are carrying out, certain funding, according to the united states. terrorist groups around the world. so it exacerbates relationships between the united states and iran and you would have to say, what would the united states do in terms of their relationship with iran to show how serious this -- the u.s. would take this to carry out something on u.s. soil. and then, of course, not to mention the mexicans being implicated in this. i shouldn't say implicated. i should say involved, allegedly, by this man who was supposedly proposing to target
drug cartels. >> certainly this is nothing that we have heard from or seen before. just to let our viewers know that the fbi and dea have disrupted a plot to commit terrorism in the united states by the iranian government and possibly, as jill dougherty was just telling us, to turn to drug cartels to carry out the assassination to the saudi ambassador to the united states. that will do it for me. brooke baldwin will pick it up from here. brooke? >> ran randi kaye, thank you very much. let me set this up for you. first and foremost, we thought we would be hearing from the president right about now. we have a live picture. let's show everyone. we were expecting and should be expecting still to see the president today speaking at a workers union, pitching the jobs bill, which by the way, is expected to be rejected in a key
procedural vote by the senate today. keep your eyes on the right side of the screen. why has he not appeared? we do not know. i do not know if that is at all affected by the picture on your left-hand side of your screen. this is live from the d.o.j. which we should be hearing from. two key players there, first the attorney general, eric holder, and also fbi chief robert muller. the issue -- and i want to bring jill dougherty back in, this major plot thwarted by the dea and the fbi. this plot, i've never heard anything like this, involving saudi arabia, u.s., mexico, and aran. bring us up to speed. what do you know. >> >> he will w. brooke, the interesting thing that we also understand from the two senior officials is that the mexicans were very important in getting
information and explaining that this plot or revealing that this plot is going to take place and that's an important point because it's -- let's back up a little bit and refresh everyone on what this plot is they are saying that the dea and fbi broke up the plot to commit terrorism, to assassinate the saudi ambassador to the united states and it was allegedly directly related to the united states. directed in some fashion by the iranian government. and, then, the really interesting thing is how this was supposed to take place.
because as we understand from the senior u.s. officials there was a person who was trying to solicit help for mexican drug cartels to carry out this assassination. and the relationship between the united states and mexico has had issues over the drug cartels and the money and the power and weapons that they have. so this -- and if the mexicans helped, which we understand they did, is very important because you could have, if the plot had been carried out, been having the united states blaming mexican cartels. so now the finger is pointing towards iran. >> first, a couple questions for you, jill. first with regard for the relationship between iran and mexico, something that we don't
usually talk about, if in fact the issue was elements within the iranian regime reaching out to drug cartels to carry out this assassination. >> actually, i can't tell you a lot about that because a lot of people at least following this would make that link initially. but you do have to say, brooke, that overly knack nap look rk the drug cartels have become entities themselves that have links around the world. so if a country were looking for somebody to do something, they might turn to these organized crime groups because, again, they have money, personnel, and many times the ability to get to places and do things. that is only what i am saying. i am not saying that the u.s. officials say that. it's not such a weird link when
you think about it. now, of course, if you get to iran and the saudis, they are at odds and certainly that has been a real issue worrying about iranian influence and that is something that has been going on for a long time. but this mexican part of it, according to these officials, is very interesting. >> it's fascinating. again, live pictures at the department of justice as we should be hearing from eric holder and muller. also, the thwarted assassination would have been carried out on u.s. soil? >> absolutely. and that's where it gets really complicated because you'd have to -- i mean, immediately the united states, having a potential assassination on its shores, it's a very serious issue to do that. so if the iranian government wanted to do it, again y. would
they want to just involve the united states and poke the united states until they felt that perhaps it wouldn't have been initially clear that it was the iranians, allegedly, behind this. hence, the involvement potentially of mexicans. mexican drug lords. >> what can you tell us about the would-be target here, the saudi ambassador to the u.s., del al jabir. >> not much except that -- this is his image. continue. >> there we go. >> the saudis are involved in so many different aspects of american foreign policy. they are certainly a major player involved in the middle east, involved in issues now
with the arab spring, certainly involved in that relationship vis-a-vis the iranians. they are friends of the united states, the saudis certainly have for a long time, they are important economically because the oil and all sorts of levels. so to try to assassinate the at bam dor in the united states is a major step let's say that the scope of this is really striking, to assassinate an am bass for to another country on united states soil. >> i want to ask what specifics, as far as this would-be assassination, do you know how they were planning on taking him out? >> no, other than using mexican drug lords. assassinations have carried out before. you can blow someone up and that
has happened here in washington many years ago, orlando, back in the '70s, i think, was blown up. in a car. and chilean. so you could do that. you could certainly there could be a poisoning. but you don't know. >> we do not. and, again, we should be hearing from some top officials there within the department of justice. do we have any idea, jill, what their comments might be or whether they are simply breaking the news? >> i think the justice department, as usual, will describe the legal karks the legal investigation that they have been carrying out. the fbi obviously very involved, dea. you'll hear the particulars and the thing will be, as i'm sure a lot of our journalists will press the department of justice to press deeply as possible how, number one, this was supposed to
work, how it was broken up, and then the implications certainly from the state department which may talk about it. but at this point, we just want to find out some details about how this was going to work and how it was broken up. >> do you have any idea, jill, as i mentioned at the top of the hour we were expecting to see and i don't see the president of the united states who arrived in pittsburgh, pennsylvania this morning, obviously a big topic on his ageneral darks selling that $447 billion jobs bill. from the best of my knowledge, he has get to step forth and speak. do we know if that is being pushed back because of the announcement by the department of justice? >> i can't say that. if it was pushed back, there might be some plan. obviously the president has to be briefed on as much as possible. i'm sure he knows just as much as everyone knows at this point. whether he says something would be a good indication as to the seriousness of this. if the president talks about it,
and specifically on this thwarted assassination plot. we are billion less than 60 seconds away from the conference with eric holder and muller. both the dea, as jill has been reporting, the dea and fbi, breaking up, thwarting this plot, a plot to kill the saudi ambassador to the united states. the plot was directed, according to these top u.s. officials, by elements of the iranian government and apparently a person, perhaps persons, were supposed to be working by getting members of the mexican drug cartel, cartels, to carry out an assassination of this
saudi ambassador. we're waiting to hear from the department of justice as far as the specifics as to how this would work and how they were able to break it up. let's bring in barbara starr covering the story for us from the pentagon. >> this is an element of the iran islamic revolutionary guard. this is a force that has been at the top of the list of terrorist -- >> here's the attorney general. let's listen. >> there are charges against two people who were going to try to
assassinate the saudi ambassador to the u.s. arrested last month in new york, he's accused of working with an arm of the iranian revolution core to devise a murder-for-hire scheme to murder the saudi ambassador to the u.s. he's alleged to have orchestrated a 1$1.5 million assassination plot with an iranian based member of the force and other co-conspirators. it is also suspected of sponsoring attacks against the coalition forces in iraq and was designated by the department of treasury in 2007 for providing material support to the taliban and other terrorist organizations. the complaint alleges that this conspiracy was conceived, was
sponsored, and was directed from iran and constitutes a flagrant constitution against the law from protecting diplomats from being harmed. in addition to them being held accountable for their plot, the united states is committed to holding iran accountable for its actions. they are charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and an act of international terrorism, among other charges. he has been in custody since september 29th, 2011, while the other remains at large. according to the complaint, he
met with an informant posing as an associate of a violent international drug trafficking cartel. the meeting, which took place in may and in mexico, was the first of a series that would result in international conspiracy by elements of the iranian government to pay the informant $1.5 million to murder the ambassador on the united states soil. according to documents that we filed today in court. akou according to the complaint, the approval to facilitate the wiring of approximately $100,000 into a bang account in the united states as a down payment for the attempted assassination. the complaint also states that in the days since the defendant's arrest, he has confessed to his participation in the alleged plot as well as provide other valuable information about the elements of the iranian government's role in it. the disruption of this alleged plot marks a significant achievement by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies as well as close cooperation of our partners in the mexican government.
i want to commend the outstanding work of the agencies involved in this investigation and robert mull letter, who is with us today and the drug enforcement agency and michelle lynnheart. their agency worked closely with the southern district of new york over these many months to monitor this alleged conspiracy, obtain valuable information, abring one of the primary plotters to justice. i want to thank them for their remarkable work and with that i'd like to turn it over to director muller. >> good afternoon. this case illustrates that we live if a world where borders and boundaries are increasingly irrelevant. a world where individuals from one country sought to conspire with a drug trafficking cartel in noerp country to assassinate
a foreign official on united states soil. it reads lij the pages of a hollywood script, the impact were real and many lives would have been lost. they had no regard for their intended victim no, regard for innocent victims who might have been hurt or killed in this attempted assassination. they have no regard for the rule of law. and with these charges we bring the full weight of that law to bear on those responsible. and we send the clear message that any attempts on american soil will not be tolerated. this was not a typical case for any of us. given the global ties we unravelled and the scope of the plot itself, but it represents the need for continued collaboration, collaboration between agencies, departments, collaboration between countries. and we said it many times before but it does bear repeating.
it is only working side by side that we are able to stop plots like this before they can take hold. we will continue to seek those who try to cause harm for those here at home and whether it's a terrorist attack on the united states citizens, or street crime in our communities. now, let me turn it over to lisa monaca. >> thank you very much, director mueller. i want to thank those involved in this operation. this is a significant milestone and achievement in our national security efforts. as you have heard, the facts, as alleged today in today's criminal complaint, sherd light
shed light on an assassination on elements by the iranian government. thanks to a coordinated law enforcement effort, we were able to penetrate and thwart the plot before it could cause any harm to the ambassador or anyone else. i want to thank those from the counterterrorism division and other divisions for their efforts in helping to shepherd this case and for their efforts in the extensive coordination that was required to arrive at today's result. this case, perhaps more than any in recent memory, involved an incredible amount of collaboration with partners over several months. were it not for the hard work of the division and its many partners, we wouldn't be standing here today. i want to thank our partners in the u.s. attorney's office for the southern district of new york for their extensive and hard work on this matter. i also want to acknowledge the work of the prosecutors in the
houston attorney general's office and the fbi, dea, and the new york joint terrorism task force. they deserve a special commendation for thwarting this plot and for obtaining information on those behind it. finally, i want to thank the intelligence committee for its critical role in this matter. the national security division was designed to serve as the place wherein intelligence and law enforcement come together at the justice department. i am proud to say that we served that purpose here. this case demonstrates exactly how the division is supposed to work and should serve as a model for future cases. thank you. and i'd like to introduce the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york, pete barara. >> thank you, assistant attorney general monaco. as has been described, the complaint unsealed today represents a pernicious plot
that had as its first priority, the assassination of the saudi ambassador to the united states. the details are chilling, to the least, as they had no concern or care about inflicting mass casualties on independent americans. when the confidential source noted that there could be 100, 150 people in a fictional restaurant where the requested bombing would take place, including possibly members of the united states congress, the lead department acting on a component of the government of iran said, no problem and no big deal. the defendant showed that they were ready, willing, and able to carry out their plan by, among other things, causing $100,000 to be wired to a bank in new york as a deadly down payment. it didn't stop there. it was allegedly intended to be
an opening act of a series of lethal acts cooked up like their partners in iran. our work, as has been said, is a product of collaborative efforts and law enforcement agencies that show keep americans safe at home while they are guests in our country. i want to command mueller for his ongoing investigation and the joint terrorism task force and partner in so many cases, the assistant director of the new york office. i want to thank the houston department of the dea for their part in this investigation and the attorney general, lisa
monaco and our close colleagues at the national security division for their support. finally, the dedicated career prosecutors in my office in the southern district of new york, glenn cop and jocelyn and deputy u.s. attorney richard and criminal division jonathan. none of the people that have been mentioned by me and others have gotten much sleep lately and we're all safer because of it. today's charges should make crystal clear that we will not let other countries use our soil as their battle ground. thank you. >> any questions that you might have? >> when you say that you're going to hold iran accountable, what exactly do you mean by that? >> well, we'll be working with our colleagues at the white house, at the state department, at the treasury department and they will be taking further action which they will be making more -- they will be making known in the relatively -- over the next few hours.
>> just to be clear, attorney general, to what degree are you saying that the iranian government was composite? what exactly are you saying? >> well, the organization that i reference in my warrant is a component of the iranian government. it was -- as we have alleged in the complaint, say that it was directed and approved by the senior members of the qud force and the iranian mailitary. high-up officials in those areas were responsible for this plot. >> so you're saying that they knew about this and blessed it? >> we are not making that connection at this point. >> what is the sort of understood motivation or purpose behind the overall plot, as you
can see it? >> we are restricting our comments today to that which we have charged in the complaint. >> why were the charges brought in new york and were there any charges to be brought in d.c.? >> you know, as is the case that has a lot of different plots and touch as lot of jurisdictions, one of the reasons for it to be in new york, there was a $100,000 payment, which was a down payment on the alleged assassination attempt and that traveled through a bank in the southern district of knnew york >> what were the other overt acts? did anyone contain explosives? >> the sean no but -- >> the complaint alleges just a couple of overt acts. there was a discussion of
conversations that took place, meetings that took place. the complaint does not allege that explosives were actually purchased. the entire time that this investigation was being investigated, the confidential force was acting on behalf of the law enforcement agency and dea and fbi. so no one was actually in any danger can you address what role the mexican government played in the role and investigation of this? can you tell us how they were involved? >> well, i can certainly say that we've all kmenlded the mexican cooperation for their help in this, helping us uncover the plot and helping us unwind it. i don't want to go into too much detail what the nature of the cooperation was but it was significant and i don't think without it that we would have been able to accomplish what we have announced today. >> are you -- are there any other suspects at large in the
united states? there is reference here to others who were conducting surveillance in washington. any other foes that you suspect that are part of this plot that -- >> other co-conspirators here in the united states. >> does the iranian man know the ambassador's favorite restaurant since it was discussed, or is that something that the confidential informant came up with? and, second, why has the other person -- how is he still at large? >> i don't think it's appropriate to respond to the second question. we should be clear, as the complaint lays out, there was not any actual restaurant laid out. i referred to it as a fictional restaurant. the confidential source was
providing information to those who were paying him to participate in the assassination plot and as going about after the money was paid. >> can you elaborate a little bit on what kind of an attack was this supposed to be? a car bomb or what sort of an attack? >>. >> again, directing you to the complaint, it's not a very long document. there's a discussion about the way that the attempted assassination would go off and as memory serves, i think there's a discussion between the source whether it would be indoors or outdoors and whether it would be a bomb or not, it's laid out in the complaint, there's discussion about using explosive devices which is why one of the paragraphs in the complaint is use of a weapon of mass destruction. >> this culminated at the same time as the negotiations to get the hikers released.
was there any discussion with the state department given to their plight and the timing of this case? >> these cases -- >> this this case was brought as the facts warranted. the u.s. attorney general office in new york and national security division worked on this matter irrespective of other things that were going on. >> when was the saudi government notified? >> i'm not sure when they were notified but they have been notified and they will be reacting in a public fashion very soon. >> are there other ambassadors that are endangered or threatened with regard to this conspiracy? >> with regard to this conspiracy, i think one has to be concerned about the chilling nature of what the iranian government attempted to do here
and one thing that we will be doing is getting in touch with other of our allies and nations around the world to make them aware of what it is that was thwarted here today. >> last question? >> mr. attorney general, i have to ask you about the fast and furious of this investigation, if you can indulge me for one minute. the report is that they are preparing subpoenas on the hill naming officials in the justice department. apparently the people on your hill, your critics say they just don't believe your testimony, in essence. what do you have to say about that and how do you comply with the subpoenas? >> we have sent thousands of pages up to the hill, we will look at the subpoenas and will undoubtedly comply with them. but in complying with those subpoenas and dealing with that inquiry, that will not detract us from the important business here at the justice department, including matters like we have here today. thank you. >> what do you know about the
controversial tactics? >> okay. here we go. as i have just printed ou this complaint a. lot of people are reading it, including barbara starr. we have jurt heard from a number of people within the department of justice talking about a very complicated plot that the dea and fbi have thwarted. there were two men named here, involved in purportedly wanting to assassinate the saudi ambassador to the united states, basically via bomb in a restaurant in washington, d.c. barbara starr, let me bring you in here as i look at my notes. let me make sure i get this straight. two people involved. one person ap preheprehended an person still at large. >> one person not in this country. let's put a face to this right
off the top. who is the ambassador for the saudis to the united states? his name is del al jaber. he is very close to king abdullah. they have been essentially in a knife fight, one with al quite da al qaeda within that country and within attacks inside saudi arabia and they have talked about the violence in syria. iran's qud force that you kept hearing about, the iranians revolutionary guard corps is essentially looking at syria as
one of its satellite states for the last many years. therefore been using the saud from their place from twoi support attacks, terrorism, hamas, and to run weapons all over the world. so there is glad blood at the moment between iran and saudi arabia on a couple of fronts. very well known and very respected as a national diplomat. as we look further at this unsealed complaint that we have now, the discussion of the quds force of iran is very interesting. this is a terrorist force not very well understood, perhaps, by many americans. we heard about al qaeda for so many years. this quds force is front and center in u.s. military and u.s. national security concerns. they have operated against u.s. troops in iraq, against u.s. troops in afghanistan, they have supported terrorism, assassination plots, all kinds of attacks around the world,
especially in the middle east. it is the militant wing that the u.s. military has kept a very close eye on inside of iran and their own expansionism as they engage in these operations and clearly today we're seeing quds trying to reach out and touch others within the united states. >> bar brarks stand by. obviously the major question is, what did the regime ahmadinejad know about this? let's go to reza who is live. the spokesman has already released a statement. what are they saying? >> reporter: just a little while ago i spoke to the iranian
spokesman, ahmadinejad, and he gave me a vehement and sometimes a mocking denial. here's exactly what he said about the allegations coming from the justice department. quote, this is a child story. it's not the first time america has come up with a story like this. america is facing domestic problems and this is an attempt to disrupt the public by trying to convince that there is an outside threat. he went on to say that this is a fabrication and america has made false allegations against other countries. so a vehement denial of the spokesperson by ahmadinejad. even, so i think this is a report that is going to make a lot of headlines, obviously, in the u.s. and throughout the world. washington has accused iran of a
lot of things before but this type of accusation is very rare. maybe even unprecedented to come out and say a faction within the iranian government is involved in a plateau assassinate a diplomat on u.s. soil. this is an unprecedented accusation. again, it's going to make headlines. the details were not many, according to what i heard in the press conference, but it's a serious allegation and one that is going to make a lot of headlines and add to the tumultuous relationship. >> reza, according to this 21-page complaint, there are outlines from the qud force, a guard corps, part of the iranian military. help us connect the dots and understand the relationship between all of these separate entities. >> reporter: well, as barbara starr mentioned, the quds force is a specialized faction within
the military force which is the supreme leader and their mission was to protect the islamic public. they have been accused of being involved in terrorist activity. again, this type of plot will tell you it's not iran's m.o. iran has been accused by washington of being a state sponsor of terrorism, indirectly supporting hezbollah and then go out and carry military attacks but they have never been, as far as i understand, accused washington of being involved in a plot like this, where they go on u.s. soil and assassinate a diplomat and then you have the department saying factions within the government. the question is, what factions. they asked how deep does this go. >> right. >> and there was no answer so
the question is, if indeed there are factions of the iranian government involved in this plot, who were they and how high did it go up? did it go up to the president ahmadinejad? was he aware of this? as you heard, this spokesperson is laughing off this allegation and completely denying it. >> let me bring barbara starr back in and a similar question to you. would president ahmadinejad have even known about this this? >> well, i think what reza is key to what is still unfolding. there is a split, a power struggle going on within the iranian government between ahmadinejad, the religious factions of the iranian military. one of the many questions for the ci acha and david petraeus,
much does ahmadinejad know? does he know about them? are they being carried out more by the quds force? are they operating more independently and more on their own? that's going to be a key thing to figure out if you want to get to who is really behind this. one of the tools that the u.s. government has used up until now and i think we've heard about it, is some of the financial sanctions on iranian companies that essentially operate as front man cups for the el quds force. they are involved in a number of businesses and get some of their money and funding that way. that's what the u.s. and international financial committee has been trying to shut dourngs working to try to impose sanctions on air rain general banks and services.
this takes us to another level that i don't think we have seen before, trying to engage in assassination in the united states of a very respected international diplomat. >> by the way, we have reached out -- cnn has reached out to this saudi ambassador to the u.s. he has not reached back out with regard to comment. barbara, do me a favor. stand by. let's show the live picture of president obama shaking hands and taking some pictures. i do want to let you know, we've had eyes and ears on his speech there in pittsburgh as he was speaking jobs and he did not mention this news just made at the department of justice made in the last couple of months. i want to bring in jill dougherty and she's been going through the 21-page complaint. the two men face multiple charges and counts here, conspiracy to use weapons of
mass destruction, conspiracy to conduct international terrorism. what more have you learned going through this? >> well, next step, brooke, attorney general said that he will hold iran responsible and further information and further steps and actions within the next hour, as he put it. and we understand that the state department is getting in touch with other countries, briefing them what happened and the u.s. is going to take it up with the u.n. security council. i don't think you can emphasize too much, brooke, how serious this is in an international sense. it is, again, an allegation but it is a major, as they called it in the briefing, a flagrant violation of international law. the iranians are denying this, saying that it was to reflect
americans from their economic problem. so there is a denial coming from the americans. but the idea that -- or the fact that they would try to carry out assassinations on u.s. soil is very, very serious. it's perceived that way and you can bet that the united states is going to retaliate with everything that it can possibly retaliate with. >> certainly when he was asked, attorney general eric holder was asked by what do you mean by holding iran accountable, i'm sure we will be told what the fallout will be of this. go ahead. >> brooke, they've already been takings sanctions against the iranians and specifically targeting the revolutionary guards who are in essence really now control the iranian economy. they have their tenticals in the
economy. the approach is to target them and hurt them as much as possible economically. so you can see a ratcheting up of that and, in that case, that can be significant because, after all, it's hitting them economically that hurts them. their power comes from the economy. but if do you have this dwhea is still unanswered, how far up the food chain in the government did it go? who was the person or the group that actually started it? was the president who himself has economic problems? iran's economy is having some problems. so did it come from him or the revolution nar guards? . >> there are a mere yesterday myriads of questions. as i mentioned, the president was pitching the job in
pittsburgh and he didn't mention what happened in his speech. let's go to dan lothian who is in pennsylvania with us right now. dan, what are you learning? >> reporter: well, this is a statement just put out by tommy a. spokesm , a spokesman who said that the president was first briefed on this issue in june and will provide all necessary support through this investigation to the disruption of this plot, a significant achievement by our intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the president is enormously grateful for their exceptional work and countless others. as you pointed out, the president was speaking just a short time ago on the issue of job creation, putting pressure on members of congress and the senate, specifically to pass his jobs bill. he made no mention of this and, of course, we're standing by to find out if at any time, either here or when the president heads down to florida, he will make
statements about this issue in iran. >> dan lothian, thank you. let's pull up this map that we've created where you can actually see the saudi embassy here. you have the potomac river on the left. maybe that's the watergate, near the kennedy center, for example. that's where the saudi embassy is. we've reached out to this ambassador and have yet to hear back any reaction to this really assassination, this thwarted assassination on his life and as those different officials describe, it would have been a bomb blast, it would have happened at a restaurant in washington, d.c. so not only would this ambassador have been killed, but multiple, multiple casualties. i have al cnn contributor on the phone with me. tom, what do you make of this?
>> hello? >> tom, it's brooke in atlanta. do you have me? >> yes. >> so we're live on tv. there is a tremendous, tremendous win for the government, the u.s. government here. what's your first impression? >> well, my impression is that they did a great job of thwarting with all of these agencies in other countries to keep this a secoret to have it o force. the quds force is sort of the iran's team and it's pretty far-fetched. i think whether they will be able to prove that skex another matter but it would be very likely that it had to go to the president. the last time the quds force attempted a major violation in america was 20 years ago they committed two bombings in
argentina and later issues were noticed back when i was on the committee of interpoll and at that time it went all the way to the top of the iranian government. so this has been a strike force type team for the government of iran for decades. >> do we know yet, tom, how they caught these guys? >> well, it sounds like from the preliminary that i heard that dea probably had an informant that was con takded that maybe members of the quds force have been referred who they believe to be a mexican cartel. >> so to be clear, and as attorney general eric holder outlined very gracious to the mexican government's cooperation here, calling it significant
cooperation but not really saying much else, is it clear to you that there was a member of the mexican drug gang involved or one of these individuals simply posing as an associate member of a cartel? >> well, it appears probably posing as a member. but you never know with an informant. if those undercover meetings were taking place in mexico, that's a sovereign country. the united states government, the dea and fbi would need the permission of the mexican government to even carry on those kinds of meetings without causing a diplomatic flap with mexico down the line. and so it would be a joint investigation with the mexicans cooperating to make sure that the informant doesn't try to go to the highest bidder and maybe actually go to the cartel and go with them to carry out the
attack. and, of course, as we've seen events in mexico, there are a couple thousand murders a month going on down in mexico, carrying out a shooting or a bomb and for any members of the cartels, that's a walk in the park for them. that's daily business. >> tom fuentes, thank you. i want to pause and welcome my colleague who is sitting down with me from cnn international as we continue our breaking news of this massive, massive plot thwarted by both the fbi and dea. apparently these two men have been charged, one of whom has been caught and is in the united states atnd the other not in th united states. and the fallout of this story is just coming out. >> no doubt about that.
how it got on people's radars and how they were able to foil it just in time. barbara, what's the latest that you are hearing? >> well, i want to go back to that map that you just put up. because so many people come to the united states here and try to visit saudi arabia and there's major thoroughfares here between the washington watergate and jfk center for the performing arts. this is right in the heart of where so many people visit washington, d.c. law enforcement officials said the plot, as dire as it was, there was no specific restaurant name. it was more a fictitious or theoretical restaurant at this point that they were trying to talk about blowing the
ambassador up when he visited a restaurant. no specific restaurant named in downtown washington. that said, it really goes back to what we've been chatting about, the responsibility, how high up in the iranian government does this go? is this the quds force, the most militant wing of the revolutionary guard corp and military, negotiating another operation on its own. does this go through the religious arm of the iranian government? is ahmadinejad behind this? and that is going to be key. when we see these measures come out, it's going to be clue. if we see more financial sanctions. but the u.s. must be so frustrated with trying to cope with iran at this point. we will see what actions the administration tries to take and how they decide to target that action so it affects whomever
entity directed this assassination plot. >> barbara, the question is, sanctions are one thing but the question is, what effect would they have on the regime and right now it seems pretty de defiant in their relations with the international community. >> well, as you know, iran is under economic pressure. this is an economy that is faltering in that country and many are feeling the economic strength of the country. the quds force is heavily invested in the economy and in businesses and instfrastructure and the allegations are from power plants to weapons factories to commercial businesses. so they can generate the money and the funds for which they are doing. what the u.s. has been doing for several years now is striking against that through treasury
department sanctions, sanctioning businesses and international banks that deal with iran. for some time now the treasury department at the highest levels -- that he goes back to the bush administration, it should be said, has been sending international financial teams to talk to the international banking committee and to get them to cut their ties to iranian banks. if they can cut those ties and give the iranians no place to invest, no place to hold their money overseas, no place to spend their money overseas, that has been the core of the strategy. attack th attack them financially, cause the economic hardship and in that way you cause the regime to weaken. the question we face this afternoon is whether the strategy is working, if they are able to feel confident to launch these kinds of alleged plots.
>> but also, barbara starr, this is brooke. i want to chime in and ask you one more question. you brought it up before. the other question is, connect the dots between iran and saudi arabia and you had another variable which was syria. the king abdullah has been coming down hard for months and months and months. that may be the connection. >> right. we will see. but what would motivate this element of iran to go after the saudi ambassador al jaber. he has worked for king abdullah directly. he has worked for the late king. it's really the face of king abdullah in the united states with the u.s. government. king abdullah has come down on very hard on bashir's and see
syria as one of their key agent and i can tell you right now that the tuz government, intelligence government all keeping a very close eye on iran, how much they are backing bashir al assad and how much they are backing him and the potential successors to him. if the iranians feel that bashir al assad can no longer control his own country, they want a say in who may be succeed him, who may come after bashir al assad because it's crucial to iran's military and international community to keep syria this their ball court and that's
something that they don't want to see happen. >> barbara, thank you. ahmadinejad laughed this off and called it a child's story. i want to bring in peter bergen who is now on the phone. the target that we keep talking about is al jaber, the saudi ambassador to the u.s. you know him. >> he's arguably one of the most important people in the saudi national security establishment. he's also very close to king abdullah, the king of sod dree arain bee yeah and has been an advisor to him. it was al jaber who was on the right-hand side of the king telling him who the guests were and a long-time advisor to him
and somebody who has lived in the united states for many, many years, who has lived in washington for many years even before he was at the am bass door yell level. he had other level positions inside washington. he's a very intelligence guy, understands the united states very well, and if indeed the allegations in this plot are true, it wouldn't be surprising that the iranians would target him since he's such a key role in advising king abdullah. the most recent example of which is in bahrain where saudi arabia brought in troops and they interpret iran as a inspired
revolution where so much of the oil actually is. >> peter, given your extensive of the region, since we're talking about qud and the revolutionary guard and one of the major questions is, would president ahmadinejad known about this directive to assassinate the saudi ambassador? would that have been likely, the president's knowing of this? >> well, i think to -- it's hard for me to actually work out what the quds' force relationship is to ahmadinejad but it wolf defy commonsense something to important as an assassination as a major ambassador in washington, d.c., would be something that would have not been signed off at the highest levels of the iranian regime.
it just -- that would defy commonsense. >> what about -- okay. peter bergen, got to sneak in a quick break. i'm brooke baldwin. cnn will be right back. my name is robin. i'm a wife, i'm a mom... and chantix worked for me. it's a medication i could take and still smoke, while it built up in my system. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix is proven to help people quit smoking. it reduces the urge to smoke. some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions
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